Yesterday, when writing about the possible ramifications of the United States cutting off military aid and arms sales to Saudi Arabia, I mentioned that this would be a series looking at the potential ramifications of doing so. Today’s piece was to be about how that would impact the United States.
But every time I started to write it- this morning, at lunch, during a boring meeting- I was standstilled by the same thought: the idea that we might separate ourselves from the House of Saud is as unthinkable as anything currently in politics. There seems to be no moral, financial, or geopolitical situation that makes it probable.
There are a lot of reasons for why not, both endemic to American politics and specific to our authoritarian moment.
For this scenario to come to pass, you’d have to imagine the following situations:
- A US President would cede power that they have clawed and grabbed for over the last 70+ years.
- A Republican congress would have to reassert their authority over a Republican president
- A Democratic Congress would have to muster the moral courage to stand up to a Republican president
- That Republican president would have to resist vetoing even without a veto-proof majority
- This Republican Congress would have to stand up to this Republican president
- This Democratic Congress would have to muster the moral courage to stand up to this Republican president
- This President would have to be absolutely sure that he wasn’t deeply in debt to various Saudi princelings
- This President would have to resist the temptation to side with authoritarians
- This President would have to believe in accountability for leaders, and not feel that thuggish, freedom-curtailing measures were what true leader should do
- They’d probably have to actually care about millions of Yemenis
- They’d probably have to actually care about the brutal kidnapping and murder of a journalist.
- This President would have to not be outsourcing his Middle East policy to his callow son-in-law, deeply leveraged and failing as a businessman, deeply in debt maybe now deeply indebted and easily played by the king-to-be
- This administration wouldn’t have a “grand plan” that revolves around siding against democracy
- This administration wouldn’t feel like dim cruelty is true strength
- That any President and Congress could resist the media-abetted foreign-policy blob that has painted Iran as the primary enemy for decades
- That we wouldn’t be easily suckered by wealth
- That our cultural icons weren’t ruthless tech jackasses, phony jargon-spewing optimists jetting around the world to fete and be feted by other bastions of vast, unaccountable wealth, distributed in tropic havens around the world, glitzing over the suffering of the rest of the world
- That our political system didn’t exist to support this vast untaxed wealth, here and abroad
- That corruption wasn’t the primary global currency
- That the US economy as a whole would have start to shift away from cheap oil and stop being held hostage by a dirty, polluting, unsustainable source of energy. In short, we’d have to sacrifice short-term convenience simply for long-term sustainability.
- That we, in short, would have to be a better country, and not a ruined and ruinous one, led to doom by a slovenly Pied Piper, leading an army of piping brownshirts while the moneyed laugh in their havens and shelters across the globe.
The premise of this series is fiction. Still, we’ll get back to Yemen tomorrow.